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The Old World's Gifts to the New

Publisher: Neumann Press
Author: Sr. Mary Celeste
Review last updated: 2014
One of my 101 Top Picks for 2012!
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The Old World's Gifts to the New

Originally published (and reprinted) in eight printings from 1932 to 1939, this is a delightful Catholic presentation of world history, similar in some ways to Hillyer’s A Child’s History of the World. It is probably best for students in the upper elementary grades. This hardcover book is over 500 pages in length, but it has fairly large print, a number of black-and-white illustrations, and a lively writing style that actually make it read rather quickly.
Refreshingly, it begins with Adam and Eve rather than “millions of years ago.” It continues up through exploration and settlement of the Americas, including the early colonial period.
As with most history books of the era, this one focuses on the roots of western civilization with little attention to Africa and the Orient. However, it does an exceptional job of connecting people, places, and events in a meaningful way, explaining why things happened as they did, so that it reads like a story rather than a collection of information. I found the illustrations—particularly the photos—quite interesting, but occasionally an illustration had little to no reference within the text—a curious situation.
There are a good many questions and activities, but they are presented in a somewhat random fashion. Sometimes they are presented as “test yourself,” sometimes as recall type questions, and sometimes as discussion questions. Some activities ask students to retell events in their own words (i.e., narration, even if it’s not described with that word). Among other exercises and activities are drawing or cutting projects and acting out historical scenes. Comprehension questions range from matching to writing a few sentences. These questions and activities appear with no predictability—sometimes in the middle of a unit, sometimes at the end. No teacher guide or answer key is available, but this isn’t a significant problem.
I really enjoyed reading this book and found myself reading more than skimming as I frequently do when reviewing such books.

Unfortunately, the publisher has gone out of business as of June 2013. You might check with to see if they have copies available.



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  • The Old World's Gifts to the New

    The Old World

    Sister Mary Celeste

    Instant Key

    • Suitable for: read aloud for younger students; independent reading for older students
      Audience: grades 4 and up
      Need for parent/teacher instruction: varies by age
      Prep time needed: none
      Teacher's manual: N/A
      Religious perspective: Catholic

    Publisher's Info

    • Neumann Press